Five things I’ve learned scooting in Toronto

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1. Your safety is your responsibility.

This effectively means it’s your job to make sure you don’t get hit by other drivers. In my experience car drivers range from mildly distracted to outright brain dead, and although you’re likely to be in the right when they hit you, that’ll be little consolation when you’re in a full body cast. Which leads us to the second principle of scootin’:

2. You are fragile!

Think of yourself as a delicate butterfly in a universe of rampaging pachyderms. No matter what bike you have, you’re a tiny little speck on the road and you are very vulnerable to the elements around you. Car drivers barrel down the road surrounded by 2 tones of metal so you can imagine they have large blindspots and are overall less attentive to their environment. Always give them a wide berth and expect unsignalled turns and last minute decisions.

3. Taxis are freakin’ evil!

Whatever your minimum safe stopping distance is, double it or triple it when you’re around them. Cabs will swing in to traffic out of nowhere, stop short with no warning to pick up a ride, pull u-turns on one way streets and squeeze in to your lane when you’re not looking. They’re jerks and they know it and couldn’t care less. You’re not going to change them so just stay at a safe distance.

4. Wear protective gear!

This seems like a no-brainer, but improper gear is probably the source of more bike injuries than any driver error. If you’re cruising down the street to the grocery store you can get away with a tshirt and shorts. Any longer trip warrants better protection. For one, even 60 mph can be cold in the middle of summer and shivering on your bike does a number on your control of the vehicle. At highway speeds a rock to the shin will break a bone; heck even a bug hitting you at 100mph will hurt a lot. Make sure you’re covered against debris especially on your legs and *always* wear gloves. You need to safeguard your texting thumbs and Playstation trigger fingers.

5. Signal for everything!

Cars will swing through traffic like demonic wrecking balls with no warning (See number 2) Signal as redundantly as you need to when you’re changing lanes, pulling over or maneuvering in any other way. It’s easy to forget especially when changing lanes can mean just swinging over 6 inches over a line. That extra bit of caution will keep other drivers on their toes, they’ll react better to your movement and they’ll be less likely to crush you into a lane or pull up beside you.

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